FEB. 12, 6:38pm: A deal isn’t expected to come together this evening, Kubatko tweets.
9:06am: There’s some hope that the deal could be completed today, tweets Heyman, though the two sides are still debating whether the deal would be three years or three years plus an option, he notes. Once the Orioles have Gallardo’s deal wrapped up, the focus will shift to a bat, Heyman adds. They’ve been linked to Dexter Fowler, Jay Bruce and Pedro Alvarez recently.
FEB. 10, 5:07pm: ESPN’s Buster Olney tweets that “if and when” the deal between the Orioles and Gallardo is finalized, he’ll be guaranteed $40-45MM over three years.
10:40am: There’s momentum toward a deal, but some “tweaks” in the proposed terms are needed to finalize a pact, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reports (Twitter links).
9:54am: The sides are “moving close” to a contract that would include three guaranteed years, Jon Heyman reports on Twitter. It’s possible that an opt-out would be included, adds Heyman, who notes that an agreement is not yet in place. Baltimore appears to be in the lead to add Gallardo and already recently began reviewing his medicals, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com adds.
9:30am: The Orioles are “making progress” in contract talks with free agent righty Yovani Gallardo, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. Baltimore has long been said to be interested in the soon-to-be 30-year-old, but this report provides the first indication of deepening negotiations.
Gallardo declined a qualifying offer from the Rangers at the outset of the offseason, of course, and thus requires a signing team to sacrifice a draft pick to sign. In the Orioles’ case, the team would stand to part with its first-round choice — currently, the 14th overall selection. And it has been hesitant to do that after already missing out on possible comp picks in two cases (Matt Wieters and Chris Davis).
It’s not clear to what extent other teams remain involved in the hunt for the veteran, but many of the organizations that seemed plausible landing spots have taken alternative routes to building out their rotation. For instance, the Astros signed Doug Fister and the White Sox added Mat Latos. Recent reports also suggest that the Rockies are no longer in pursuit of Gallardo.
The qualifying offer is obviously a factor in Gallardo’s market, as it is with any player who receives one, but the bigger question in his value lies in how you view his results against his peripherals. As Tyler Clippard’s signing just proved, a lengthy track record of excellence may not always translate to corresponding earnings in free agency, even for somewhat younger pitchers, where there’s a lot of wear-and-tear and signs of declining underlying ability.
In the case of Gallardo, there’s plenty to like about his recent run prevention record, which includes 184 innings of 3.42 ERA pitching last year. But he’s also seen his strikeout rate fall all the way to 5.9 per nine with his walks rising to 3.3 BB/9. And Gallardo’s average fastball has declined by more than two miles per hour from his highest annual mean velocity.
It’s obvious to see why the Orioles are interested in bolstering a rotation that’s now without Wei-Yin Chen (who at least left a comp pick when he departed). There are options, to be sure. But there isn’t much in the way of upside — Kevin Gausman probably carries the most — and even some of the depth comes with its own questions. Baltimore figures to utilize Gausman, Ubaldo Jimenez, Chris Tillman, and Miguel Gonzalez in the starting five, with pitchers such as Odrisamer Despaigne, Vance Worley, Mike Wright, and Tyler Wilson also factoring into the competition.
Ultimately, it’s not clear that Gallardo would end up representing a truly significant upgrade over Baltimore’s current options, but he’s an established arm with a nice track record of durability. It’s worth noting, too — as Steve Adams pointed out to me — that his strong groundball rate (49.3% last year) would figure to play well with a high-quality Orioles infield defense to back him.